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New Manchester United part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe echoes Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous battle cry in warning to rivals Man City and Liverpool: ‘I would like to knock them both off their perch’


Sir Jim Ratcliffe has vowed to knock Manchester City and Liverpool of their perches after becoming co-owner of Manchester United

Speaking for the first time since his 25 per cent stake in the club was ratified, the petrochemicals billionaire also revealed that a fresh decision on Mason Greenwood – currently on loan in Spain having been cleared of allegations of rape – would be made in due course.

He also joked that he did not know if the Qatari sheikh, whose rival bid he beat to invest in United, existed.

The 71-year-old also added that it was his dream to build a new, 90,000-capacity Old Trafford, said United would take inspiration from rivals City and Liverpool and took a swipe at Newcastle over their handling of the approach for sporting director Dan Ashworth.

In 2002, Sir Alex Ferguson famously vowed to knock Liverpool off their perch. And a smiling Ratcliffe repeated that battle cry. ‘We have a lot to learn from our noisy neighbour and the other neighbour,’ he said. 

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS completed their minority investment in Manchester United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS completed their minority investment in Manchester United

The INEOS chief has vowed to knock United's rivals, Man City and Liverpool, off their perches

The INEOS chief has vowed to knock United’s rivals, Man City and Liverpool, off their perches

Sir Alex Ferguson, similarly, famously vowed to knock Liverpool off their perch back in 2002

Sir Alex Ferguson, similarly, famously vowed to knock Liverpool off their perch back in 2002

‘They are the enemy at the end of the day. There is nothing I would like better than to knock both of them from their perch. Equally we are the three great northern clubs who are very close to one another. 

‘They have been in a good place for a while and there are things we can learn from both of them. They have sensible organisations, great people within the organisations, a good, driven and elite environment that they work in. I am very respectful of them but they are still the enemy.’

United have three options with regards to Old Trafford, to move, refurbish or build a new home next to the existing stadium.

And Ratcliffe, Britain’s second richest man, wants to go for the third. ‘In an ideal world I think it’s a no brainer,’ he said. 

‘In an ideal world you want a stadium in the north, a stadium of the north, which would be a world class stadium where England could play and you could have the FA Cup Final and it’s not all centred around the south of England. So in an ideal world, absolutely, that’s where I would be but you’ve got to be practical about life.’

With regards to on the field matters, United have strongly suggested Greenwood would never play for them again. However, Ratcliffe had a different stance.

‘It’s a fresh decision,’ he said.

‘I can talk about the principle. I am not going to talk about Mason. I am familiar with it. The principle is the important one. We will have other issues going forwards. 

Ratcliffe, along with Erik ten Hag (middle), will also have a say regarding on the pitch matters

Ratcliffe, along with Erik ten Hag (middle), will also have a say regarding on the pitch matters 

Ratcliffe has left the door open for Mason Greenwood to return to the club this summer, despite backlash from fans when this was contemplated last year

Ratcliffe has left the door open for Mason Greenwood to return to the club this summer, despite backlash from fans when this was contemplated last year

‘You are dealing with young people who have not always been brought up in the best circumstances, who have a lot of money and they don’t always have the guidance they should have. 

‘What we need to do when have issues like that is understand real affects not the hype then we need to make a fair decision in the light of the club’s values. That’s what we need to do and that’s how we will deal with it.’

INEOS have made an approach to Newcastle for Ashworth but have been asked for £20m, with the threat of the ex-England man remaining on gardening leave should an agreement not be reached.

‘I think it’s a bit silly, personally,’ he said. ‘I won’t get dragged into that. What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting a man who is really good at his job sits in his garden for one and a half years. 

‘We had a very grown up conversation with City about Omar Berrada (the chief exec United have taken from their rivals). When things got done we sorted it out very amicably. They could see why he wanted to take that challenge. 

‘You look at Pep (Guardiola) when he’s done with one of his footballers he doesn’t want them to sit in the garden for one and a half years. He doesn’t do that. That’s not the way the UK works or the law works.

Ratcliffe said he 'had a very grown up conversation with City' about Omar Berrada, who was recently appointed CEO at Old Trafford

Ratcliffe said he ‘had a very grown up conversation with City’ about Omar Berrada, who was recently appointed CEO at Old Trafford

The British billionaire also shed praise on the work done by Man City boss Pep Guardiola

The British billionaire also shed praise on the work done by Man City boss Pep Guardiola 

United have not won a Premier League title since Alex Ferguson left more than a decade ago. And Ratcliffe says his aim is to have them competing for glory at home and abroad in the near future.

‘I think the ultimate target for Manchester United – and it’s always going to thus, really – is that we should be challenging for the Premier League and challenging for the Champions League,’ he explained. 

‘It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. There’s six, in my view, who are probably the six biggest clubs in Europe – three in the northwest, two in Spain and one in Germany. United should be in that small group. 

‘It hasn’t been for a while. And so therefore, it must be challenging for the Premier League. And if we’re not, then in a way, we’re not doing what we saying we ought to do.’

Describing the last decade as painful, he added: ‘It’s been a complete misery really in the last 11 years and it’s just frustrating if you’re a supporter during that period of time. That’s football isn’t it? It has its ups and its downs. I remember pre-Ferguson it wasn’t great for quite some time – for a more extended period of time actually, for about 25 years.’

Ratcliffe believes turning United around will take time. ‘It’s not a light switch,’ he said. ‘It’s not one of these things that changes overnight. We have to be careful we don’t rush at it in a way, you don’t want to run to the wrong solution rather than walk to the correct solution. 

Ratcliffe made a damning assessment of the organisation he has inherited at Old Trafford

Ratcliffe made a damning assessment of the organisation he has inherited at Old Trafford

‘We have two issues – one is the longer term, getting Manchester United to where, where we would like to get it but there’s also the shorter term of getting the most out of the club as it stands today because we would like to see the Champions League for next season if we can. 

‘The key challenge here is that longer term. We need to do things well and properly, and thoroughly, and not rush at it, so it’s not an overnight change it’s going to take two or three (seasons). You have to ask the fans for some patience.’

Ratcliffe defeated Qatari businessman Sheikh Jassim, who wanted to stage a full takeover of the club.

‘Still nobody’s ever seen him, actually,’ he said. ‘The Glazers never met him… he never… I’m not sure he exists!’



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